Every morning, you—and millions of people across India-- wake up and head groggily to the kitchen to make tea. Whether you live with family, friends or roommates, the morning chai is the first and often the most critical part of your daily routine.
You cannot even think of heading to college, going to office, or stepping out for groceries without your mandatory morning cup of tea.
Because without chai, you cannot function. Without chai, the day cannot begin.
A few hours later, afternoon arrives, and lunch is inevitably followed by a strong urge to nap in the meeting room or in the back bench of a classroom. That’s when you need that cup of chai again.
This time, you head to your local chaiwallah. His stall or cart is always crowded, and he prepares piping hot tea in a metal pot. And when you’re working late into the night, the chaiwallah turns out to be a lifesaver (yet again).
For most of us, a cup of chai is like a basic human right. We can’t imagine living without our numerous cups of tea, and we can’t imagine others living without it either. It’s an integral part of our existence, because it wakes us up, it stimulates us, it makes us feel human, it comforts us.
And so, when someone comes calling at home, whether a neighbour or relative, friend or foe, the first thing we ask is, “Would you like some tea?” And the answer is almost always yes.
At the end of a long day, on a happy occasion, during sad moments, after a trip, just before an exam… it’s always the right time to brew some tea. Then everyone at home sits down to chat.
You talk about your day, the weather, your cousin’s wedding, the scandal in your neighbour’s home, family problems, work problems, your promotion, your child’s achievements…. And so much more.
Think of tea as a catalyst. Imagine how easy it is to catch up with decades-old friends over a cup of tea, or how quickly you can bond with a near stranger over chai.
The unconditional love for tea is what binds us. When we set the tea pot, we are inviting our visitor to not just share our tea, but also little tidbits of their lives. Things that bother them, things that they enjoy… and what we all enjoy is a delicious cup of chai.